PENDLETON - For the Knappa girls basketball team, the Friday contest against Sherman County for fifth place in the OSAA/U.S. Bank/Les Schwab Tires State Basketball Tournament included a thrilling conclusion to another successful season for coach Mike Jacobson's Loggers.
Senior Rene'e Evans and freshman Nadra Evans led Knappa to a 54-49 come-from-behind victory with a remarkable Sister Act performance that even Whoopi Goldberg would've been proud of. The Evans sisters combined to score 15 points in the fourth quarter to overcome a five-point Sherman advantage.
The Loggers (27-2) - ranked second in the Oregon Class 2A Coaches Poll during the regular season, expected to contend for the championship in the five-day tournament at the Pendleton Convention Center. Knappa's title hopes faded though after a first-round upset to seventh-ranked Colton on March 4.
The Loggers, who took fourth place in 2002, regrouped to win three straight and record a top-five ranking in the series for the second consecutive year.
"We adjusted our goal after losing that first game and after playing four days in a row, we're happy with fifth place, because there are many teams that would love to be in our position," said Jacobson. "Our seniors - (Evans, Molly Miller, Tonya Olds, Eliza Heavenrich), didn't want to lose their last high school game and Rene'e and Nadra played just great."
The seesaw battle included nine lead changes and neither team led by more than six points. Knappa held an early 8-2 advantage and led 10-9 after one quarter. The Huskies (22-5) of the Columbia Basin Conference, took control in the second led by 6-foot senior center Kristi Danielson who poured in 10 points in the quarter.
The momentum was clearly in Sherman's favor, particularly at the conclusion of the first half. Rene'e Evans was whistled for her third foul with just one second remaining and two free throws by Husky senior guard Codie Stroud gave Sherman a 29-25 halftime lead. Knappa junior forward Tracie Nygaard poured in 13 first-half points, but she was also targeted by officials and was in trouble with three fouls.
MURRAY MILLER - For the Daily Astorian
The Knappa girls pose with the fifth-place trophy from the 2A State Basketball Tournament. Front row, left to right: Kasha Klauser, Corey Jacobson, Molly Miller, Nicole Baird, Manager Shannon Gribbin. Back row: Assistant coach Alan Barendse, Katie Ho, Tonya Olds, Tracie Nygaard, Rene'e Evans, Nadra Evans, Coach Mike Jacobson, Samantha Smet, Eliza Heavenrich, Ali Gerttula, Assistant coach Nikki Gascoigne."We were really frustrated because most of the calls by officials seemed to be going against us in the first half and it was very difficult to try and maintain our composure," said Rene'e Evans, who had an electrifying performance with 12 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and four steals.
"We were determined to come out and play with more defensive intensity in the second half because we didn't want to end our season with a loss," Evans continued. "We were all a little depressed, because we were hoping to make it to the finals. It's really awesome to participate in this tournament, though, and we responded well and won three straight. So we're definitely glad to get fifth place."
Sherman enjoyed its largest advantage, 31-25, when Husky junior guard Laura Olsen sank a jumper with 6:38 left in the third. Knappa scored seven straight to go up 32-31, but Sherman regained control with a 10-4 run to take a 41-36 lead after three quarters.
Nadra Evans fired in back-to-back three-pointers at the outset of the fourth to give Knappa a 42-41 edge. Sherman led just one more time at 43-42 before a 10-foot Rene'e Evans jump shot in the lane gave the Loggers a lead (44-43) that they wouldn't relinquish. A free throw by Olds, followed by an aggressive Rene'e Evans post move when she grabbed a rebound and scored on a putback over Danielson to make it 47-43 with 4:13 remaining in the game.
"Miller and Ali Gerttula came off the bench when we got into foul trouble and really played well," said Jacobson. "I feel very proud of this team because everyone worked hard this season and it's great to bring home the fifth-place trophy."
After the teams traded baskets, Nygaard, who led Knappa in scoring with 19 points, fouled out with 3:46 left. When Danielson dropped in two from the line, Sherman trailed 49-47. Olds scored on a driving layup in the lane with 3:21 left, for what was actually the game winning basket as Knappa went ahead 51-47.
An Olsen jumper with 1:39 left provided the Huskies one final chance as they closed to within 51-49, but the Logger's tough man-to-man defense shut down the Huskies for the remainder of the contest. The Huskies fouled Nadra Evans to stop the clock, while sending her to the line three times in the final 49 seconds and the remarkably talented guard made 3-of-5 to secure the big win.
"I was a little nervous when I went to the line, but since we practice free throws quite often, I felt confident that I could make them," said Nadra Evans, who scored 15 points. "In a pressure-filled situation like that, I just try to concentrate and focus on putting them in. It sure was exciting to play in the state tournament for the first time and it was a great experience. I feel very fortunate to be a member of a winning team and we had lots of fun. Rene'e always plays extremely well and she's helped me develop into a better player while teaching me so many things, so I'm sure going to miss her next season."
Nygaard said, "It sure was frustrating and disappointing to foul out in a big game like this. I tried to support my teammates though, while cheering from the bench and I'm just so glad that we came up with a win."
Rene'e Evans had an outstanding performance with a four-game total of 63 points, 34 rebounds, 20 assists and 17 steals. Nygaard scored a total of 54 points and sophomore Katie Ho totaled 29 rebounds.
Kittitas 55, Naselle 37SPOKANE, Wash. - The Naselle girls basketball team went home with another trophy, even if it wasn't the one they wanted.
The Comettes wrapped up their appearance in the State B Tournament in Spokane Saturday with a 55-37 loss to Kittitas.
The victory by Kittitas gave the Coyotes the fourth-place trophy, while the Comettes finish seventh.
Naselle trailed 31-30 entering the fourth quarter, but Kittitas went on a 24-7 run to win going away.
Cristina Bruketta scored 19 points to lead the Coyotes, who eliminated Naselle from last year's tournament. Kittitas finishes with a 27-1 record, while the Comettes end the season at 24-3.
Naselle 65, King's West 55SPOKANE, Wash. - The Comettes weren't going to let a little 14-point halftime deficit deter them from a trophy. Naselle rallied big time for a 65-55 win over King's West Friday morning at the State B Tournament in Spokane.
King's West held a 29-12 lead midway through the second quarter, and led 35-24 at halftime in the consolation round game.
The Warriors' Brigitta Rauen hit a 3-pointer to open the second half, but from there, Naselle outscored King's West 17-6 over the remainder of the third period, highlighted by two 3-pointers from Lucy Rubio.
Rubio added a steal and a layup near the end of the quarter to cut the King's West lead to 42-41.
Naselle's Nora Darcher added two shots from beyond the arc early in the fourth quarter, and the Comettes finally took the lead on an offensive rebound basket by Tiffany Pauly.
The Warriors suffered a total collapse in the final period, as Naselle's Abbie Smith and Fritha Davern scored baskets in a 14-2 run by the Comettes, who ran away with the win.